When we initially released Infektor for iOS, we decided to not bother with unlocking levels and all that stuff that you typically see on mobile games. We figured that since we're doing an arcade type, score-attack kinda game, we'll just leave the doors open for the player to dive right into the game.
Looking at it in retrospect, this might not have been the brightest idea. Sure, it makes it very easy for the player to jump right into the game for a quick play session, which is what we aimed for. But it also has many drawbacks.
Where's the problem?
For one, we have no control over difficulty curve. The player can dive right into the hardest arena, without even looking at the tutorial. And as you might imagine, this will not be a particularly fun thing to experience for most users. That's bad for us, as it's very easy for a new player to get a bad first impression of our game. If he had a bad experience right of the bat, why would he want to continue?
And while we're talking about fun, why not ask a question what makes a game a fun and satisfying experience? Well, a sense of accomplishment would be on top of the list, I think. Especially for a skill-based game like Infektor. The problem is, the only thing we offered a player is a score and a leaderboard ranking once (s)he is done. And if you're not logged into Game Center, you're not even going to get a ranking, just a number without any context. This will not be enough of a reward for many players.
And we see that in our analytics data. Almost 90% of our users give up on the game after first try and never come back.
And the solution?
Well, looks like adding some kind of progression system would solve a lot of our problems. First of all, it would allow us to gently introduce the player to game mechanics and gradually increase difficulty level. That would let us avoid the bad first impression.
But more importantly, progression can be a reward in itself. When a player successfully finishes that hard Infect level, there's a reward in the form of another level being unlocked. This is the aspect that we completely ignored when first designing our game.
So what's the scheme?
First of all, Infect arenas will need to be unlocked by finishing earlier levels. Nothing special here, just your usual "beat to progress" kinda thing.
But we're also adding a new game mechanic: plasma drops (probably a temporary name). Basically, every enemy drops some plasma upon death, and the player can pick that up. And that's usually a bit of a risky business. So why take that risk? Well, you get points for collecting it. And probably more importantly, you get an extra health point if you pick enough of it. So yeah, it can be risky, but if you're skilful, you can prolong your life quite a bit that way. And lastly, that same plasma acts as a currency to get you some goodies for the next time you play.
Don't worry, it's not a micro-transaction scheme of any kind. It's just an in-game way of letting you pick your own reward. So, what can you do with it?
- Unlock Survival arenas: it's a one time deal, once unlocked, stays unlocked
- Unlock booster slots: there will be three slots that will allow you to augment the microbe you choose, the first one is available from the start, the other two will need to be unlocked with plasma
- Augment your microbe: you can exchange plasma for boosters that go into unlocked slots. Those will provide various upgrades to microbe's capabilities. This will let you tweak it to better suit your play style or the challenges a particular level presents.
So that's it. Once we update the graphics to get rid of placeholders, expect a video showing some of the above.